Blog submitted by Dillon Van Auken
Dillon Van Auken is a student from ACS International School, through ORBIS' partnership with ACS Dillon was selected to participate in an internship for that allows students to take part in an ORBIS program overseas.
Today featured the commencement of ORBIS’s Da Nang program in the form of screening day, over which the ORBIS doctors (known as Volunteer Faculty or “VF’s”) examined around twenty-five patients to determine appropriate later treatment.
As today was quite busy in preparation for the rest of the week, our job as interns was to mainly observe the doctors and identify prospective case-studies that we will be writing as the week goes on. Each of us went to certain specialty screening rooms, which included retinopathy, led by Dr Hampton; glaucoma, led by Dr Piltz-Seymour; and paediatrics, led by Dr Black. Gradually we moved in between rooms to grasp the wide array of ocular problems facing the local people and the subsequent treatment that they would be receiving from ORBIS.
Each doctor would examine the patients in front of several hands-on trainees, local doctors from Da Nang, other areas in Vietnam, and some from Cambodia and Laos. The doctor would examine the patient’s eyes with various instruments, whilst also explaining the observations to the hands-on trainees. It was truly amazing to watch the doctors do this, as they had to cope with actual treatment of a patient, teaching, and a language barrier all at once. Despite these tough requirements, each did so very calmly and efficiently.
After observing each patient, the doctors would decide whether to perform surgery on the Flying Eye Hospital, the Da Nang Eye Hospital, or to postpone surgery for local doctors to carry out at a later date. From each section, four patients were chosen to go to the Flying Eye Hospital, four were chosen to go the Da Nang Eye Hospital, and the rest were selected for later surgeries, although some did not require surgery at all.
So far, this trip has already been extremely moving and inspirational for me personally. Observing the doctors today was one of the few times in my life where I have seen people be genuinely selfless and devoted to helping others. Often, even in charity work, self-interest is still a major motivator, yet these doctors as well as the entire ORBIS staff are committed to genuine philanthropy. It was also very emotional to see the numerous patients, many of them children, with very severe eye conditions that could have been prevented with greater infrastructure and development. Yet, the sadness of their conditions is counteracted by the optimism that they will have treatment this week through the help of ORBIS. It will be great to see their progress at the hands of the wonderful ORBIS staff over the week.